H1B visa - L1 Grace Period USCIS 60 Days Details

H1B Grace Period 60 Days USCIS Rule – Job Loss, You Quit, H4 EAD, FAQs

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 200 Comments

Many companies go through restructuring due to change in strategy, cost cutting, mergers or downturn in their business due to situations like COVID-19. In such cases, when those companies do job cuts and layoffs, some of them could be H1B holders as well.

In the past, there was no concept of grace period for such H1B holders and they were out of status upon job termination or layoff…but, in Jan 2017, USCIS made effective a set of rules that helps certain employment based non-immigrants such as H1B holders. Let’s look at the official rule details and FAQs on the same, including COVID-19 situation.

What is Official H1B Grace Period USCIS Rule ?

As per regulation that came into effect in Jan 2017, H1B Visa holders can get a grace period of up to 60 days to find another job or change visa status, if their employment on H1B visa is terminated due to layoff or other unforeseen reasons, before the end of their H1B petition validity. Below is the official rule text screenshot for the same.

H1B Visa Grace Period 60 Days USCIS Official Rule Reference
H1B Grace Period Official Rule Text

  The grace period is applicable for non-immigrant workers on H1B, H1BI, L1, O1 E3 and TN Status.  The reason for giving the grace period is for job portability for the employees to be able to find relevant work and continue their employment as their employment period ended before the completion of the given duration in their actual approval notice.

H1B Visa Grace Period with I-94 expiring before 60 days

The regulation at 8 CFR 214.1(l)(2) clarifies situation with I-94 expiration date that is earlier than the H1B petition approval notice.  It says “H1B Holder gets 60 Days of grace period or until the end of authorized validity period of their status(basically I-94 end date), whichever is shorter”.

So, if your I-94 or petition end date is before 60 days from your job loss or lay off, then your grace period is shortened until the expiration of your I-94 date. Below is screenshot of the official rule text on the same. See below highlighted text in green and purple.

H1B Visa 60 Days Grace Period with I94 Expiration Rule
H1B Grace Period with I-94 Expiring before 60 days

What does grace period of 60 days mean for H1B holders with Job Loss

The grace period, which is a maximum 60 days for H1B, L1 and other visa holders means that they will be considered in “Valid Status” (read US Status vs Visa ) and not considered ‘out of status’  for the entire 60 days duration. It is important for H1B Transfer and to continue to stay in US.

In general, you need to be in ‘valid status’ in US to file any petitions with USCIS for extension or change of status(COS) to be approved with I-94 to continue to stay in US.  These 2 months or 60 days grace period gives the H1B or L1 holder legal status to find another employer to file another H1B or do change of status to another visa as needed.

Is the 60 days grace automatic ? USCIS Discretion ?

As per regulation, the 60 days grace period for H1B or L1 holders is not automatic, but discretionary. What it means is that DHS/ USCIS has full right to eliminate or shorten the grace period based on a case by case basis. As per official H1B grace period rule it says “DHS may eliminate or shorten this 60 days grace period as a matter of discretion”. So, you cannot take it for granted. See red highlighted text in above screenshot.

Why would USCIS to reduce 60 grace period ?

USCIS does not give details on why they would eliminate or shorten the grace period for H1B holders. Having said that, some of the common reasons that USCIS could use to reduce or end grace period is for situations involving unauthorized employment, fraud or criminal charges tied to the H1B holder. As long as you do not engage in any of these kind of activities, you should get fully 60 days grace period.

How to request for 60 days grace period for H1B, L1, E3 visa holders ?

There is no special form required for requesting grace period. It is pretty much standard process, when you apply for transfer…additionally, you would need to submit proof of your layoff or resignation. Basically, you would submit a cover letter explaining your situation of Job loss , with supporting documentation, when you file for H1B Transfer or Change of Status application with USCIS. This way, they would consider your status as valid, even if you do not have pay stubs.

How many times can you use the 60 days grace period ?

H1B, L1, E3 and other visa holders can only use the 60 days grace period ONCE for H1B petition validity period. What it means is that, let’s say you are working for Employer A, you get one 60 days grace period for the H1B validity with Employer A. Now the catch is, if you quit or got laid off from Employer A and plan to re-join Employer A, lets say after 30 days during your grace period, then you do not get another 60 days grace period with Employer A as the same H1B petition will be used. 

Unlike, if you transfer to Employer B, then as you have a new H1B petition with new validity period, you get another 60 days grace period. You may watch below short video as well.

Do I get grace period, if I quit or resign the job, instead of Layoff ?

The regulation does not differentiate between layoff, job loss, termination, resignation or quitting the job. So, technically 60 days grace period should be available to all H1B, L1 and other visa holders, who either submit resignation or quit, instead of layoff.  Having said that, USCIS has their discretion to decide or reduce the grace period, based on your case and circumstance as it cannot be taken for granted automatically.

Can we just resign and automatically get grace period ?

Though the regulation does not differentiate between job loss vs. resignation or quitting the job, it has to be noted that the 60 days grace period is USCIS/DHS Discretion and not automatic. The original intent of the rule was to help highly skilled non-immigrants in dire situations. If USCIS is not convinced and they may not issue you 60 days grace period or make it shorter, thereby making your stay “out of status”. So, it is NOT recommended to take the H1B grace period rule for granted and resign job and apply for transfer later…discuss with your attorney before you make any such decisions.

What if I exceed 60 days grace period with H1B Transfer ?

Well, technically you are considered to be in valid status until you hit the 60 days grace period mark or expiration of I-94. Once you go past 60 days, your status is no longer valid and you are considered as ‘Out of Status’.

Let’s say you apply for H1B transfer and get the USCIS receipt on day 60, you can still start to work from day 60 and it will be fine, but if you do not have the receipt on 60th day, you are entering a tricky zone and you should talk to your attorney and decide. Ideally, the safest thing to do is leave and re-enter US. It is always recommended to go for premium processing, if available, in situations like these.

Can H1B dependents on H4 EAD work during 60 days Grace Period ?

In general, you need to be in valid status to continue working. During 60 days grace period, H1B holder is technically in status, hence H4 Visa holder is also in status. So, logically, H4 holder with valid EAD maybe able to work during the grace period. But, the tricky part is, USCIS regulation clearly tells that H1B holder cannot work during grace period, but does not give any guidance on H4 holder working on EAD. So, it is a grey area and you need to discuss with attorney. 

Also, as USCIS mentioned, the 60 days grace period is discretionary and not automatic, you need to be very careful. If let’s say USCIS does not give you 60 days grace period or shortens it, then H1B holder would not have been in status, so H4 visa holder would also not have been in status…so, you would have done unauthorized employment on H4 EAD as there was no grace period for you as well…so, it can be tricky, so, the suggestion is to either stop working on the day your H1B spouse loses job, to avoid issues as it is subjective or discuss your case with your immigration attorney and act accordingly. Better safe than sorry !

Any additional USCIS H1B Grace Period with COVID-19 ?

No, there is no special provision or concession given by USCIS for H1B holders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even, if your company does a layoff due to Coronavirus, you still have the same 60 days grace period for finding a new employer. There is no additional extra time given by USCIS due to the pandemic.

If you cannot find a job within the grace period, it is best to leave the country within the 60 days or apply for Change of Status to other visa type. If you cannot really travel out of the country due to COVID-19, you may consider applying for B2 Visitor Visa.

Common FAQs

When does the 60 days grace period start, when you lose job ?

It starts on the day the lay off is done or job is terminated…or you resign. It is not tied to your payment cycle like 1st or 15th of the month. As soon as you get notice that your job is terminated, your grace period starts from that day. You need to make sure all of these documentary evidence is submitted during H1B Transfer or Change of Status.

Can I carry forward the unused 60 days Grace Period, use in future  ?

No, you cannot carry forward unused grace period from 60 days  and use it another time. As mentioned above, you can use it only once per petition validity period and cannot use it again in chunks as needed.

Can you do part time work during 60 days Grace Period  ?

No, you cannot work part time or engage in any sort of unauthorized work during the 60 days grace period.

When Can I Start working during Grace Period with H1B Transfer ?

You can start working for the New Employer, as soon as you have received the USCIS Receipt Number. E.g. If you lose your job and you filed for H1B transfer with new employer and got receipt after 20 days during the grace period, you can start working right away after you have receipt number from USCIS. You do not have to wait for completion of 60 days grace period.

Do I get 60 days grace period , if my H1B or L1 are denied ?

No, you do not get any 60 days grace period, if your H1B or L1 petitions are denied by USCIS. The grace period is applicable only for cases, where the employment ends earlier than the H1B or L1 petition validity period.

Can I travel outside of US during 60 Days grace period and re-enter ?

You may travel outside of USA in grace period, but you cannot re-enter as you will need valid Visa to re-enter. Unless you have a valid visa for a different status, you cannot re-enter. The grace period can be used to settle up your affairs in US and move out  or to find another employer and get status extended using transfer.

How does H1B /L1  grace period impact my Visa Stamp ? Re-use the same ?

Your visa stamp has no impact with the H1B/L1  grace period or your employment termination You can use your H1B or L1 visa stamp to re-enter US by showing the new H1B /L1 Approved petition approval notice ( I797 approval notice) from USCIS. No need to go for stamping again.

What are your thoughts on the H1B, L1 Grace Period of 60 Days ? Your experiences

ReferencesUSCIS Non-Immigrant Visa Changes Regulation – 2017  , USCIS H1B 60 Day End Date Regulation 2017

   

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Comments ( 200 )

  1. Priya

    Hello,
    I lost my job due to COVID situations and my last date with the employer was on Sept 8, 2020. I am still having 28 days of grace period left. Please suggest what can be done from the below options
    1) Can I apply COS to change to a B2 visa, find a job, and then apply for H1 with a new employer?
    2) My husband is on F1 CPT. Can I apply for an F2 dependant visa, find a job, and then apply for H1 with a new employer in case if I can use H1? How long does it take for the F2 process?

  2. Pri

    Hi
    Thank you for the information. I have a question.
    I was on CAP GAP when my H1 B petition was denied and I stopped working effective the next day afternoon ( as I checked my status the following afternoon and nor the employer was aware of the denial on the previous day). I am seeking COS now to F2. Should working an extra day cause an issue? Do I need to include any document relevant to this issue?

  3. Kolaram Moorthy

    Hi,
    Thank you for the detailed information on this topic.

    I was with Employer A and due to COVID, I was asked to return and support from Offshore. So I resigned my job on July 26 and found a job with Employer B and they have filed Transfer on Sep 10. I started working for employer B with FedEx receipt notice starting Sep 16.

    Could you please clarify on below-

    1. I was told that getting actual receipt may take 10 days. Is it must to get actual receipt notice before 60 days grace period?

    2. I could see that my previous petition (with Employer A) was revoked on Sep 14. I am not sure whether it was done by my Previous employer or USCIS because of new transfer. Does that mean grace period was shortened? Will it impact my status or new job?

    3. Is there a way to check if grace period is shortened or not?

    Thank you!

  4. Kush

    Hi Kumar,

    Thanks so much for doing this! I have 2 questions:

    1 – I just got laid off and am in my 60 day grace period. If I cannot find a job within these 60 days, I’ll leave the US. After that, can I continue looking for a job? If I get an offer and my company submits a petition, can I come back to the US on the same visa?

    2 – if after the 60 day grace period I continue staying in the US (my I-94 expires in 2022), I will be out of status. Will this prevent me from getting a job on h-1b? will this affect my green card application in the future? and will my out of status status be reset if I leave the US and re-enter in the future?

  5. vt123

    Hi Kumar,
    Please help in giving some thoughts
    Employer filed h1b transfer just before 60 days grace period Let’s say 4 days before 60 days ends. Confirmed delivery from fedex as received at USCIS side. Once the receipt notice received its showing 10 days after 60 days period end date. How this can be impacted? what is the best way to tackle it?

  6. Yasmin

    Hi,

    Below is my case. Please go through it and possible advise on the right action to be taken in this situation.

    Parent company “P” has two child companies “A” & “B” . I have valid I797 approved till end of 2021 with petitioner “A” . Due to COVID crisis my project was called off. I found a job in company “B”. We have same legal attorney for Company A, B and P.

    As per my company legal attorney advise I had to switch to company B with just an amendment which can be filed once I moved from current location to another location. Due to COVID situation i was not asked to move for now and also they never filed an amendment either. I was terminated in company A and hired by company B in the process during which they did I-9 verification with new company. I have received two paychecks from my new company B.

    Now my attorney and my HR have comeback to me saying that H1 transfer should have been done when moving from company A to company B. They suggested to terminate in company B and move back to company A. My 60 day grace period is over after Company A’s termination

    I certainly believe that this is going to be big red flag in my US employment history.

    1) I already received paycheck from company B for last 2 month. What can I do about that?

    2) I am not working now and past 60 days grace period. I am currently waiting for H1 transfer to be filed to company B but it will take another 2 weeks to file because of LCA. I understand that there is more chances of denial, first I am out of status and staying in the US. second, I have paychecks from company B without filing H1 transfer.
    Can I go back to company A and work with my approved petition after company B denial?

    3) Can I go back to Company A (I hold a valid visa till 2021) and work after 60 day grace period without filing H1 transfer for company B?

    4) I certainly believe that this is going to be big red flag in my US employment history. Please advice how can I avoid future denial?

  7. Shibin

    Hi Kumar,

    Thank you for sharing the information.

    My situation is as follows, Please provide your insights:

    I traveled to India in February and i got my visa stamped in Chennai which is valid until April 2022.

    I traveled back to India again on March 8th and I was unable to travel back to USA due to COVID. Then i was laid off by my employer in April 30 2020 when i was in India .

    Currently I’m staying in India and My visa is cap exempted.. My employer told that they will submit H1b withdrawal request.

    1. Is there any possibility that my visa is still valid or it is revoked/Cancelled? How can i check the same?

    2. what are my options In order to travel/go back to USA?

    Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Shibin,
      1. No, employer cannot revoke visa. They can only withdraw your H1B visa with USCIS.
      2. You can find a new company, transfer H1B and go to US.

      1. Shibin

        Hi Kumar,

        Thanks for your response. Could you please let me know the below?
        1. How can i know the status of the withdrawn visa? Will it be updated with the same receipt number/USCIS case ID of approved visa?
        2. If the same employer is ready to rehire, Is offer letter sufficient to travel back to USA?

        Thanks,
        Shibin

        1. Saleem

          Hi Kumar,
          I have the same questions!

          Thank you Shibin for the questions.

          Kumar, Thank you again for your valuable inputs and suggestions.

          Regards,
          Saleem

        2. administrator
          Kumar

          Shibin,
          Yes, it will be on USCIS and will have status withdrawn for the same receipt number. It looks like this – Check Withdrawal Status
          Yes and you need to ask them, if they have not withdrawn. Of course, you need valid US visa to enter and all relevant documentation for the same.

  8. SS

    Hi,

    I have received approval notice for H1B extension under AC21 after 6 year maxout for 3 more years from Sept 6 2020 to Sept 5 2023. My company got back to me that I will be laid off in 2 weeks that is Sept 15, 2020 with severance pay.

    1. Could you let me know if my grace period starts from Sept 15, 2020?
    2. If I plan on transferring to new company does it mean i need to get the h1b transfer receipt within 60 days of sept 15, 2020?
    3. What are my options if I do not get a job within 60 days of grace period.

    Thanks for your help!

  9. Harish

    Hi Kumar,

    Thanks for all the help you been doing for us. I have couple of questions here.

    My H1b is valid till 31 Dec 2020. My current project with employer A is ending on 18 Sept 2020.

    1. If I find a project right before my project end date and move to a different client, the employer just has to file for amendment and extension, correct ? Does 240 day rule apply here?

    2. What if I don’t find a project before 18 Sept and find it after 18 Sept, will current employer withdraw the approved petition on 19 Sept ?

    3. Can I move to a different employer B/ client, and file for fresh H1b with extension just before and just after 18 Sept ? Will 240 day rule apply here ?

    4. If i find a project after 18 Sept, is it recommended to file for premium or just regular ?

    Please advice, thanks!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Harish,
      1. If it going to be amendment, it will not have 240 days rule.
      2. Well, they need to keep you employed until end of petition…but, if they do not have budget, they can.
      3. It will be classified as a transfer, no 240 days rule for it.
      4. You should go for premium always due to the delays.

  10. Mohammad Saleem

    Hi Kumar, Thank you for the information. My situation is as follows:
    I traveled to India in February, got stamped my visa in New Delhi which is valid until 2023. I couldn’t travel back to USA due to COVID. Then i was laid off by my employer in April 2020. My grace period of 60 days is over as well. Is there any possibility that my visa still valid to go back to usa without renewing if i find new employer or my previous employer hires me? How can I know if my visa still valid to travel back to USA? My visa was cap exempted. I read somewhere that if someone is outside of USA and get laid off, after 60 day cancellation does not apply to them. In another words, the visa stays valid. Is it true? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Mohammed,
      Yes, 60 days does not apply to you as you were out of US. Now, if you find a new employer, who can apply for transfer of H1B with USCIS, get approval…then, you can use that approval and go to US using the previous stamp you already have. The Visas are not revoked that are on passport and they stand valid until duration of validity, unless it is for fraud.

      1. Mohammad Saleem

        HI Kumar,
        Thank you so much for answering my query. My previous employer (who filed my h1b) wants to rehire me . Could you please let me know, can he rehire me on the same visa without renewing it?

        Thank you

        Best regards,
        Saleem

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Mohammad,
          Yes, they can. If they have not withdrawn the application, it essentially stands valid. if they have done the withdrawal, then they need to re-apply. You need to have valid I-797 approval when you are at Port of entry and offer letter too.

          1. Mohammad Saleem

            Dear Kumar,
            Thank you so much for your prompt response. You are doing amazing work for helping the community. Thank you
            Regards,
            Saleem

  11. Usha

    Hi, need help and it’s urgent!! I was laid off on 10th July 2020 and have approved h1b till Jan 30th 2022. According to the 60 days grace period rule , my 60th day would be 8th sep 2020. There are inconsistent informations that I found on web and wanted to validate that.
    1. I read on other website that I can find job till the validity of my i94 I.e. , and I would not be considered out of status even after 60th day is passed . I have an employer ready hire me but feels there is way too little time left to file for h1 transfer.
    2. Second thing i read is that if employer had paid severance package which in my case is 4 weeks pay and 10 PTO pay . Then my 60 days grace period starts after severance pay is over.

    I would go to an attorney to help clarify these questions but I’m not getting an appointment in till next week, and I need to know if any of this information is true in order to provide these options to the new employer to file H1 transfer .. please help!!!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Usha,
      1. No, that is not right. You need to have receipt notice from job within 60 days. You check the screen shots and link in above article, they are official regulations.
      2. No, that is wrong too. Your last date is when your job ends, not when you are paid. many companies do final settlement after 3 months too, that does not mean they are employed.

      You can check with attorney always to be sure. But, I always suggest you read the regulation and what is in this article be your own judge…

  12. Dee

    Hi,

    Thanks for this informative article. Would you know if the petition to have the 60 day grace period extended to 180 days is still being considered by the White House?

    Thanks.
    Dee

  13. Ramana

    HI Kumar,
    Thank you for great article. Can you please help with the question on Grace period start day.
    Which of the following is considered as the start day of Grace Period.
    1) The day employer told me that I’m laid off, but I’m on payroll for one more month
    2) The last day of payroll

    Thanks in Advance
    Ramana

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Ramana,
      1. The last date you are employed with the company. Basically, it is the day when they take your laptop and give you a relieving letter or close your email.
      2. Not always, sometimes, they pay a month later, so not always.

  14. Andrew

    Hi. What if an approved H1B is revoked by USCIS (after employer notifies USCIS of termination of employment), does this automatically end the 60-day grace period?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Andrew,
      No, it does not as long you have valid I-94 and it was normal termination by your employer. Also, you need to understand the 60 days grace period is discretionary.

  15. Kshitij

    What would happen in below scenario? Let’s say I am in 60 day grace period (after Employer let me go). I apply for H1B transfer with new employe, however that Transfer request gets denied before the 60 days grace period ends. Will my status be still valid in US? Considering I do not have time for new H1B transfer application, if I leave the country will it be considered that I left country on legal status?

  16. Lisa

    Hello,

    Thanks for the detailed information. But i would like to get your insight on my situation.

    1. My i797 will expires on 9/10/2020 (6th year of H1B), will I get a 60 days grace period upon the expiration date?

    2. If not, how soon should I leave the country after my last day at the State. within 10days?

    Thanks advanced for your time.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Lisa,
      1. Probably not. Check with an attorney.
      2. You should leave before your I-94 expires. Usually your I-94 is 10 days past the approval notice.

  17. Geeta

    Hi,

    Both I and my husband are in H1B with approved I140. I recently applied to H4 CoS from H1B through my husband’s employer. We are still waiting for the receipt notice. But now my husband lost his job. My questions are:
    1. Will my H4 CoS automatically get canceled or do I need to withdraw it?
    2. If my husband is not able to find a job within 60 days, can he apply to my H4 EAD ? Given my H4 application before, will this ruin his chance of getting H4 through my H1B?

    I would really appreciate your response on this.

    Thanks
    Geeta

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Geeta,
      1. You should send withdraw letter to be safe from your side. if you do not do anything, then your status would not be clear and can run into issues. Talk to attorney on this. Timing is important.
      2. He maybe able to, if your H1B is active again. Check with attorney.

      Timing is important for all of these, so discuss with attorney and act fast. The best thing to do is to apply for H1B COS for you immediately in premium for you to get h1B status and then apply for H4 for your spouse, if nothing found in 50 days or so.

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